Andi Oliver details hard health battle before life-saving treatment

Great British Menu: Andi Oliver speaks to contestants

Andi Oliver has revealed that she suffered an extremely tough time battling an eating disorder back in her 20s.

Nowadays, the Great British Menu star’s passion for food has become her career – but decades ago, her condition was so severe that she had to receive life-saving treatment.

She’d previously told Saga of that dark time in her life: “I was dangerously ill, sitting in the dark, crying, wanting to die, not being able to stop myself eating. I was in a scary place for some time.”

Fortunately, in an unusual stroke of luck, the 60-year-old was taken on by a private clinic for free, and has managed to keep her illness at bay.

Her TV presenter daughter Miquita, 39, quizzed in her latest interview for the Radio Times podcast: “Isn’t it funny that the thing you’ve had a difficult relationship with your whole life has become the backbone of all your success?”

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Andi is relieved to have turned an unbelievably tough situation around, musing: “It was very hard for me because food had been my safety place.

“It felt like the one thing that was unshakeable and when it got shook, when it broke, I was lost at sea,” the Beat The Chef star elaborated to the Radio Times.

“To be able to regain myself, to pull myself back up onto dry land, to reclaim one of my best friends – which is food – has been a powerful, important thing for me.”

To that end, she and Miquita now host and produce their own mother-and-daughter podcast together, named Stirring It Up.

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It features the pair and a special guest they invite along with their plus one to discuss anything and everything while dining at their kitchen table.

Food has always been a part of their culture which they pride themselves on – and Andi says she’s invited hungry “waifs and strays” to her house countless times for a delicious home-cooked meal, as she “can’t stand” the idea of people being on their own.

The pair didn’t come from money, and Andi raised Miquita by herself in social housing, while often on the “breadline”.

However, that didn’t change the fact that she’s always been happy to share what she has, no matter how little it might be.

Meanwhile, hardship has only increased Andi’s impeccable work ethic, according to her daughter, who says she never stops working because she knows what it’s like to have nothing.

Strife and difficulty seem to have always been a driving force for Andi – from her eating disorder, which was followed by a career in the food world, to her foray into radio, which she says came about through the hardship of a family death.

Her brother died from sickle cell anaemia in 1990 aged 27. The tragedy sparked Andi to help others at a hospice for those with HIV and AIDS.

From there, a co-worker gave her the unexpected opportunity to appear on BBC Radio, and the rest of her impressive career, of course, is history.

Andi and Miquita Oliver are the cover stars of the latest issue of Radio Times magazine, where they discuss their life experiences in further detail.

If you’re worried about your health or the health of somebody else, you can contact SEED eating disorder support service on 01482 718130 or on their website.

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